Book review – ‘The Sense of Darkness’ by Cinzia De Santis

Rating: 5/5 stars


Clara is a blind girl who lives in Sabana, a small village in Latin America, raised by her aunt Trinidad. Despite her handicap, Clara is adventurous, curious and very much in charge of her life. Thanks to her acute sense of smell, she becomes a renowned healer. Her world falls apart when members of a guerrilla gang bring to her home a wounded prisoner, Mauricio. While Clara struggles to understand the feelings he generates in her, Trinidad’s past emerges after more than twenty years.


There are writers who make their words the focus, crafting language, and there are storytellers for whom the words are secondary as they focus on telling a tale that really sucks the reader in. My goodness, Cinzia De Santis is such a storyteller. The simple yet elegant prose allows the reader to meander through the lives of the characters, becoming fully involved and invested in the narrative. There are also a couple of moments when the author does embellish her language somewhat, often for the scenes focusing on a character’s inner emotions. The contrast in style makes these moments beautiful and sometimes painfully profound.

As for the story itself, the weakest aspect, in my opinion, was the relationship between Clara and Mauricio. It seemed from the blurb, and the introduction, that this would be the key feature of the plot but, although important to the resolution, their relationship wasn’t fully developed. However, that wasn’t a big issue as, reading the novel itself, it seemed to me that this was in fact Trinidad’s story. I would have liked to have seen Clara’s reaction to Mauricio rooted in a little more logic but it really did not affect the story overall.

Although I’ve just commented on what I felt was a lack of development, it was the backstory of all the characters that really made this novel something special. Although, as I’ve said, I feel that this was Trinidad’s story more than anything else, every character has their own history, their own relationships and feelings and, for a few pages at least, we explore their lives. Cinza De Santis has focused on one family group yet expands to brush upon the lives of those surrounding them. In this fashion, the book seems to accurately reflect life as we all move in our little bubbles, sometimes blessed with a glimpse of another’s story.

Overall, this is a book that is honestly worth the time spent reading it, and one that I do not doubt I will re-read at a later date. It is written in an easy style that focuses on telling the story at hand and that story is beautiful in its own right. I believe that this is the author’s first English language novel and I look forward to many more to come.

I was lucky enough to win a copy of this book through Goodread’s First Reads and I am so pleased that I did. The blurb was enough to make me enter to win it, obviously, but would not have convinced me to buy it. Had I not been lucky I may well never have picked up this book and I would have missed out. I would urge you, if you’re tempted at all to give it a go.

The Sense of Darkness is available in both Kindle and Paperback format from Amazon.

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